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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Does this change the landscape of the MCU as we know it? Certainly not, but come for the classic Raimi camp.

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If you're the kind of movie buff, who's been tiring on Marvel's (and other comic book-based productions) insistence of superhero movies breaking with genre, and offering up a more stylistically varied set-up every time, well you're going to like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness very much.

And why is that? Well, it seems director Sam Raimi, who's creative fingerprints covers every inch of the good doctor's second solo outing, decided as soon as he took the helm, that this particular adventure was to be so recognisable as a superhero movie, that you'd never ever think twice about its source of inspiration, or its main purpose.

It's an entertaining romp with overt overtones of 90s camp, almost Mad Max-like punk rock and a self awareness rarely seen within the walled garden of the MCU. It starts in top gear, never lets go and never loses sight of what it wants to be. A big, daft, dumb, fiercely entertaining but also wholeheartedly uneven blast from the past.

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Let's however disclaim up front that it's nearly impossible to even begin to discuss plot structure without heavily spoiling some of the surprises you have in store. Safe to say that it's up to Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange to protect new character America Chavez from evil forces trying to manipulate the multiverse, a concept which was directly introduced in both the Loki Disney+ series and Spider-Man: No Way Home, and which seems to be the main "star" of this fourth phase of the MCU. You'll meet a range of familiar faces, some of who you really, as in really, won't expect, and during its two-hour runtime characters will almost never stop running from creatures, villains and threats from beyond the realm of imagination. It really is a fast movie in every sense of the word unlike almost anything the MCU has done before.

And it's stylish too, dripping, and sometimes nearly drowning, in Raimi's signature style fit with purposefully comedic prosthetics at times, glam rock guitar and campy effects. Trust us when we say that there's more Army of Darkness and Drag me to Hell here than you might be expecting.

As a standalone storytelling exercise, it's good, it's even great at points, with characters delivering capable, believable performances. There are even some emotionally resonant scenes sprinkled in for good measure, tying neatly back to WandaVision too.

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The problem though, one that Marvel itself has created, is that every point is not only a self-contained piece of storytelling, it's a note in a larger sequence, and let's just say that while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has all the trappings of furthering the larger narrative of the MCU, it very, very much does not. In fact it actually seems to downplay its significance in the larger scheme of things once it gets going, something you may like, or dislike, depending on your preference.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Regardless, it'd dumb to call Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness a bad movie, because it certainly is not. It, and director Sam Raimi, knows what it wants to achieve, and you have to give Marvel credit for letting a director get so intrinsically tied to every single scene, as is the case here. But, it also ends up losing some of its sense of purpose, and its charisma, along the way, leaving us with a fun time at the cinema, and little else.

That should also count for something. But that's the trouble with continuity - you have to both be good on your own, and establish worthwhile context, strengthening the core platform for future stories to build upon. This second Doctor Strange movie sticks the landing, but only on one of two counts.

07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
overall score
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